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François Rabelais

Gargantua and Pantagruel

At Lyons in 1532 there appeared Gargantua: Les grandes et inestimables cronicques du grand et énorme géant Gargantua, a chapbook collection of familiar legends about the giant Gargantua. Their popularity apparently inspired Rabelais to write a similar history of Pantagruel, son of Gargantua. Pantagruel appeared in 1532 or 1533. His book had great success and he followed it, in 1534, with a romance concerning Pantagruel's father: Gargantua: La vie inestimable du grand Gargantua, père de Pantagruel.

The third book of the romance, which differed greatly from the first two, was published in 1546; an incomplete edition of the fourth book appeared in 1548 and a complete one in 1552. After Rabelais's death a fifth book appeared (1562); the question of its authorship remains unsettled. Rabelais's novel is one of the world's masterpieces, a work as gigantic in scope as the physical size of its heroes. Under its broad humor, often ribald, are serious discussions of education, politics, and philosophy. The breadth of Rabelais's learning and his zest for living are evident.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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